Non-work=leisure?

In Ridgeway’s book, gender at home is analyzed with a premise of before retirement. Besides general stereotypes and moral schemas, “power” often comes from incomes, which is the basis of the term “provider”. So retirement should be a point that “provider” becomes meaningless which we will talk about next time. Now, let’s follow Ridgeway’s footstep and have a look at leisure at home before retirement.

When speak of leisure, you may wonder how many time does someone have. AMERICAN TIME USE SURVEY —2015 RESULTS shows us quantitative results:

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm

From the survey you may see that there does exist some differences between men and woman on spending time in watching TV, socializing, or exercising, which are 5.8 hours and 5.1 hours respectively. Maybe you will say “that seems fine, there is not such big inequality in leisure.” But does this result tell all the story? To know more information, we should pay attention to another two surveys: (1) on a typical workday, 10% of employed woman reported no free time activities whatsoever although virtually all employed men did report some (Szalai et al, 1972). (2) Another study of 834 women under 45 years of age showed that many women said they did not have any leisure time – that housework and looking after the family absorbed all their time (Melbourne, 1974). (I know the surveys are a little old…) According to Marxian’s tradition, the work that woman do in the home doesn’t produce surplus value that can be accumulated as capital, so that it is seen as “non-work”, then, “leisure”. However, women are not agree that they have “all in a day’s leisure”.

The Time Use Survey fails to segment leisure behavior into more categories. If so we will see that many leisure activities can be carried out in conjunction with child-care, such as watching TV, reading, listening to music, dining out, relaxing/doing nothing, walking for pleasure and so on. So, the numbers are often deceptive, women are actually have unequal rights on leisure with man. To understand this question, we should figure out who decides the household division of labor, because it seems that more labor on women is an important factor causes the leisure inequality. Besides, traditional family values, other’s evaluation, economic independence, educational level, interpersonal interaction and leisure facilities are also limited elements for women’s lack of leisure.

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To explain most of these questions, we should go back to Ridgeway’s book to find some answer. Just as Ridgeway says, “repeated, implicit evocation of cultural gender beliefs and schemas in family relations powerfully frames the decisions and actions through which family members construct their division of household labor.”

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